Group calling for gun reform following school shooting gains nonprofit status

Protesters hold a rally outside the state Capitol on April 3, 2023, marking one week since a fatal school shooting in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Voices for a Safer Tennessee, a group formed to advocate to gun reform following the mass shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School, has registered as a nonprofit organization and named the founding members of its board.

Here’s the full release from the group, which is also known as Safer TN:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Voices for a Safer Tennessee (Safer TN), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to prioritizing firearm safety and promoting responsible firearm ownership through bipartisan legislation, today announced that it has formally registered as a nonprofit organization under the 501(c)(4) designation of the Internal Revenue Service. Safer TN also has announced its founding board of directors and board officers, who represent a broad range of professional and political backgrounds in reflection of the organization’s objectives:

— Todd Cruse, chairman and treasurer;
— Nicole Smith, president;
— Whitney Kimerling, secretary;
— Clay Richards; and
— Jill Talbert.

“It is an honor to serve as chairman of the board for Voices for a Safer Tennessee and to have an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the organization’s efforts to advance common-sense firearm safety legislation,” said Todd Cruse. “As a parent, gun-owner and Tennessee voter, I firmly believe that the concepts of firearm ownership and firearm safety are not mutually exclusive, and that there is a clear, bipartisan path forward to protecting our children and communities more effectively than we are doing today.”

Today’s announcement comes approximately six weeks after the volunteer-run group of parents, neighbors, friends and community members came together, and one month after Safer TN’s “Linking Arms for Change” event that garnered national and statewide media attention by bringing nearly 10,000 Tennesseans in Nashville and Knoxville together, ultimately forming a three-mile human chain in support of common-sense firearm safety legislation. Since then, Safer TN has built unprecedented momentum and support by bridging people of diverse interests, religions, political perspectives and geographies to engage in advocacy including:

● Publishing Letters of Support, championed by key Tennessee leaders, including education leaders, healthcare executives and faith leaders respectively;

● Releasing statewide, bipartisan poll results showing strong support for common-sense firearm policies from Tennessee voters with key demographics, including Republicans and households with guns;

● Meeting with United States Senators and other leaders in Washington D.C., to ask for support and have productive conversations about firearm safety;

● Coordinating nearly 100 meetings with state legislators and elected officials in less than six weeks;

● Sustaining a daily visible contingency of supporters on site at the Tennessee State Capitol and Cordell Hull buildings during the regularly scheduled state legislative session;

● Organizing a group of notable artists, including Amy Grant, Sheryl Crow, Ruby Amanfu, Will Hoge, Allison Russell and Margo Price to meet with state lawmakers about addressing firearm safety measures;

● Bringing together more than 65 notable musicians and artists, including Sheryl Crow, Kacey Musgraves, Amy Grant, Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Jason Isbell and more, to support a letter addressed to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and members of the Tennessee General Assembly, asking them to put politics aside and the safety of our children above all else;

● Collecting more than 3,000 petition signatures in support of stronger firearm safety and ownership laws;

● Inspiring news coverage in more than 500 media stories across the state and the world – from local community newspapers to international television broadcasts reflecting a nonpartisan, common-ground approach to firearm safety solutions;

● Sharing timely and actionable information with supporters following Governor Bill Lee’s introduction of an order of protection bill and subsequent call for a special session of the legislature to address public safety.

“It is extraordinary what our group of volunteers has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time, and how many like-minded Tennesseans have willingly mobilized to support this cause,” Cruse continued. “By formalizing as a 501(c)(4) and creating the mechanism to raise funds, we are now in a stronger position to continue advancing the short- and long-term goals of Safer TN, including our efforts ahead of the special session that begins August 21.”

Leading up to the special session, Safer TN is continuing to advocate for:

● extreme risk laws with proven language that would allow authorities to temporarily restrict access to firearms from people who pose a risk to themselves or others,

● stronger firearm storage laws that would require firearm owners to provide safe storage and report lost or stolen firearms, and

● closing background check loopholes to keep firearms away from dangerous people.

Safer TN encourages all Tennesseans who believe that we can find common ground to achieve these policies and protect our communities to get involved by donating, signing the petition, and following Safer TN on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for regular updates and calls to action.

About Voices for a Safer Tennessee

Voices for a Safer Tennessee (Safer TN) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition dedicated to prioritizing common-sense firearm safety laws and promoting responsible firearm ownership to make communities across our state safer. Safer TN was founded by neighbors, friends, colleagues and community members who came together with a shared desire for change following the tragic events of March 27, 2023, at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. The organization brings voters and lawmakers together by leading conversations, sharing diverse perspectives and finding commonality to champion the bipartisan change that the majority of Tennessee voters support. Learn more at


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